Euro Parliament kills ACTA treaty before court can look at it
Intellectual property is theft, says Brussels
As widely expected, the hapless Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) treaty has been rejected by the European Parliament.
European MPs wanted to push through a vote before the European Court of Justice had ruled on whether ACTA is compatible with European Treaties - and succeeded. Altogether 478 MEPs voted against ratifying the treaty, while 39 supported it – 165 MEPs didn't turn up at all.
The treaty lost its copyright liability provisions some time ago, and its rejection will hurt many SMEs and small inventors who genuinely need help in policing their trademarks and brands against fraudsters and copy-cats.
Many of the larger world economies have signed the agreement – including the USA, Japan, Singapore, South Korea, Australia and Canada – although no one has ratified it yet. There is some pressure to put it to a Congressional vote in the States and the Australian government recently recommended that ratification be deferred.
The treaty was partially designed to lower the costs of intercepting counterfeit trade - including fake drugs - across borders.
One entertainment industry attorney told El Reg privately that it had been a mistake to negotiate in private, since this stoked the anti-copyright activists' most paranoid fantasies. And these are vivid, as illustrated here.
"It does nothing for us," he told us.
And timing didn't help. After the US SOPA legislation was sunk, activists were in high spirits and took to the streets believing ACTA was SOPA re-incarnated. Even websites reliably sympathetic to the freetard cause appealed to the activists to calm down, pointing out many of the arguments against ACTA were myths.
"Repressive measures are not the right way forward," said EuroISPA president Malcolm Hutty in a statement today.
The European Publishers Council pointed out that:
“The European Parliament has totally ignored proper judicial procedure. It has given in to pressure from anti-copyright groups despite calls from thousands of companies and workers in manufacturing and creative sectors who have called for ACTA to be signed in order that their rights as creators be protected.”
Another source told El Reg:
"There was tension between the Parliament and the Council/member states because the member states negotiated the criminal sanctions chapter of ACTA, whereas a criminal sanctions directive, agreed by the Parliament several years ago, never saw the light of day as it remains blocked in the Council." ®
Brilliant news. Well done everyone who rallied against this and the other backdoor control laws.
"Intellectual property is theft, says Brussels"
What? No one said anything about intellectual property being theft. Most of those opposed to ACTA were generally in support of IP enforcement, but didn't think that ACTA was the right way of doing it (either in terms of content, the vagueness of the wording, or how it was negotiated). Strike one.
Plus, there seems to be a misunderstanding as to how the EU works; the European Parliament holds its plenary sessions in Strasbourg, not Brussels. It holds its committee meetings and so on in Brussels, and its secretariat is based in Luxembourg, but the vote was held in Strasbourg, so nothing to do with Brussels. Strike two.
"The treaty lost its copyright liability provisions some time ago..." is also complete nonsense. The copyright liability provisions are still in ACTA, see in particular articles 23 and 27, both of which impose liability (including criminal liability) in relation to copyright. Strike three. A good thing there isn't a three-strikes system for inaccurate journalism.
With regard to the title, I'm not sure what the relevance of it being rejected before the court examined it - I was under the impression that most laws were voted on by Parliaments without court approval, with challenges being made through the courts later. The court isn't in a position to determine whether or not the proposed law is a sensible law, only whether it fits within the competence of the EU.
Missed the point completely...
Wow, I know some of the Reg authors are out of touch with the general feel amongst the readers, but I think this is the first time I've seen EVERY SINGLE comment disagreeing with the main thrust of the article.
Yes there may have been some good bits in there - but if they were so good, why did it have to be all done in secret? THAT is why it's been thrown out.
Let's hope that lesson has been learned, at least...